Star forward Steven Stamkos has finally inked a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. the deal, worth $37.5-million, will have Stamkos committed to the team for the next five years. BoltsByTheBay writers got together to answer five questions about the whole Steven Stamkos ordeal up to now.
Why did it take so long?
Ryan Bristlon: Did it? Stamkos was quoted, after signing this contract, saying that this deal had basically been settled for the past two weeks. The only thing keeping the news from going public was the fact that a few minor details had to be ironed out. What these details were, who’s to say? Factors such as determining how much Stamkos would make per season out of the $37.5-million he agreed to, over a five-year span, could be an example (the answer is $8-million for the first four years and $5.5-million for the fifth). The fact is that Stamkos, over the past few years, has developed a relationship with the team, club, and city of Tampa Bay, and it’s safe to say that he would have rather opted to stay put and build upon his reputation than start from scratch elsewhere. Simply put, saying this deal took “too long” to come to fruition is absurd. Steven Stamkos had no intention of going anywhere, and the Tampa Bay Lightning club had no intention of letting him.
William Morden: No, of course, it didn’t take too long. Coming to an agreement with any elite player is both difficult and unpredictable. There’s the politics of CBA, and the question of how much of a raise is enough/too much. He was definitely due what he eventually signed for, but there were plenty of Bolts fans sitting on pins & needles. With the flurry of free agents signing in the first 48 hours of July, I felt like I was watching an episode of Storage Wars. But, three weeks into negotiations (and, about three rumors away from full on insanity) we could only guess when Steven Stamkos would finally sign. There wasn’t any real concern whether he would sign, but rather the anxiety over what took so long. I mean, how does an RFA resigning process earn the nickname “Stammergeddon” if no one thought this took so long?
How will this signing affect Stamkos’ performance?
Ryan Bristlon: Most fans of the team would like to think it won’t – and it shouldn’t. Stamkos is still young and has plenty of years to prove himself. The fact is, at this point in his career, and after everything he has done for the team so far, Stamkos has earned this contract. Five years, for someone his age, isn’t mind-blowing. If his performance drops, he still has plenty of career left to improve. After leading the NHL in goals for two of your first three seasons, it’s safe to say that this contract is something that was deserved. This is a contract that gives Stamkos confidence that he is valued by the club as well as rewarding him for what he has already done for the team under his entry-level contract.
William Morden: There’s no real way to gauge future performance. Though I’m sure every GM in the league would love to have the services of some kind of Minority Report precog to predict their future; it’s always a crap shoot. Sometimes, teams get lucky (i.e. – 1998 entry draft, 171st overall, Pavel Datsyuk), and sometimes they totally bomb (i.e. – 2000 entry draft, 1st overall, Rick DiPietro). In my opinion, Steven Stamkos has a bright future in Tampa and should turn out to be the rising star he’s so far shown himself capable of being. As my esteemed colleague has already mentioned, this contract will give him confidence… a new swagger with which he will continue to amaze Bolts Nation and the League.
How many years into this contract will it be before Stamkos wears the “C”?
Ryan Bristlon: This is a five-year contract. Even though young players such as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have dawned the captain’s “C” at young ages, this writer believes that Stamkos will not. That’s not to say he will never be a captain, but he won’t be within this contract. Current captain, Vincent Lecavalier, has had his ups and downs. He’s even been stripped of his captaincy on a previous occasion. But, Lecavalier is on contract with Tampa Bay longer than Stamkos. As long as Lecavalier is on the team, Stamkos will not be captain. Secondly, and hypothetically, if Lecavalier were to be traded or stripped of the “C” again, Martin St. Louis would be second in line. The heart of St. Louis alone would give him credibility as a captain even if he didn’t produce any points. Lastly, the team is now managed by Steve Yzerman, one of the greatest captains of all time. Yzerman is a player who played in the days of seniority. The “C” is something to be earned. Simply put, with this roster and management, Stamkos is simply too young and has too little ‘big league’ experience to wear the “C”.
William Morden: I have to agree that Stamkos won’t be wearing the “C” immediately, but I do believe he is next in line for the role. Lecavalier could be operating on a short leash, and it doesn’t have to be a trade or buy-out that moves the Lightning captaincy from #4’s jersey to that of #91. Steve Yzerman was named captain of the emerging Red Wings at the tender age of 21, and he was so named by Jacques Demers because he was the “guy with the Red Wings crest tattooed on his chest.” You better believe that Yzerman remembers the challenge of that promotion, and with his caliber of play and skill, he rose to the challenge. This writer believes that Stamkos could be in line for a promotion at the earliest sign of weakness or lack of focus shown by Lecavalier, if not sooner.